The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

Edith Wharton

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  • EAN: 9788829572816

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Published in 1905, The House of Mirth was the first widely recognized work by American author Edith Wharton. It tells the story of young socialite Lily Bart struggling to find her place among the early 20th century New York elite. Wharton traces Lily's slow but steady two-year descent from social privilege to a lonely existence on the margins of society and tragic end.

Beginning in January 1905, The House of Mirth first was serialized in Scribner's Magazine. It attracted a readership among housewives and businessmen. Due to its popularity, it eventually was published as a novel in October 1905. Charles Scribner wrote Wharton in November 1905 that the novel was showing "the most rapid sale of any book ever published by Scribner." By the new year, sales had reached 140,000 copies. Wharton's royalties were valued at more than half a million dollars in today's currency. The commercial and critical success of The House of Mirth solidified Wharton's reputation as a major novelist. 

A beautiful and intelligent, but impoverished socialite, Lily Bart attends a house party at Bellomont, the country home of her best friend, Judy Trenor. Her mission is to find a husband with great wealth and status to maintain her place in New York society. It is here that Judy introduces her to potential suitor, Percy Gryce.  Lily's week at Bellomont ends in a series of failures - she loses a large sum at bridge as well as her ploy to marry Percy Gryce. Her failure with Percy occurs when tall, handsome and engaging Lawrence Selden unexpectedly shows up at Bellomont. Lily chooses to spend Sunday with him instead of meeting Percy for morning church services and an afternoon walk. Succumbing to her agreeable femininity, Selden begins to fall in love with Lily. Though orphaned and deprived of her father’s inheritance, Lily has grown accustomed to a certain quality of life under the care of her Aunt Julia Peniston. Seldon quickly realizes that she cannot happily marry a man of his modest means.

Lily’s strategy to marry Percy Gryce is thwarted by Bertha Dorset who has been carrying on an extramarital affair with him. Realizing Selden came to Bellomont to see Lily, Bertha retaliates by making sure Percy finds out about Lily's gambling, smoking, and borrowing money from men to pay off her gambling debts. Percy is scared off and soon thereafter marries Evie Van Osburgh. Lily attempts to neutralize the detrimental effects of the gossip surrounding her by renewing her association with her nemesis, Bertha Dorset, and cooperating with Carry Fisher's mission to bring the newcomers, the Wellington Brys, into high society.
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  • Edith Wharton Cover

    Scrittrice statunitense.Di famiglia ricchissima, nel 1885 sposa il banchiere Edward Wharton. Dopo la separazione dal marito si trasferisce in Francia, dove stringe amicizia con i maggiori scrittori e intellettuali del tempo, come Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau e André Gide. Nel 1902 pubblica il suo primo romanzo The Valley of Decision, cui seguono nel 1905 La casa della gioia, nel 1911 Ethan Frome e nel 1920 L’età dell’innocenza, le sue grandi opere. Muore in Francia nel 1937. Approfondisci
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